Say hello to Nono, the grocery delivery robot that could change the way we shop

Planet Business: Office cake peril, Manchester United on the market and binoculars out to spot Davos celebrities

Image of the week: Charge and deliver

The bad news is that the robots are coming. The good news is they’re bringing croissants.

Supermarket chain Carrefour has begun trialling robots that autonomously deliver groceries to customers’ homes, with its experiment using “team members” developed by Turkish company on a test run in Zaventem, Belgium. From this week, anyone living in Zaventem’s airport-adjacent Corporate Village complex can place an order via Carrefour’s home delivery app and apparently have it arrive within 15 minutes courtesy of its intrepid new members of staff, Nono, Natacha and Loulou.

Eventually, Carrefour – which says its test is a first in Europe – hopes to deploy robots in city centres and also “revolutionise small and medium-sized towns that are currently not served by home delivery”.

The grocery-laden self-driving AI carts are equipped with eight cameras and sensors that have pre-mapped where it is they’re supposed to go. What could possibly go wrong?


In numbers: Glazers almost out


Years since the late Malcolm Glazer and his family completed a takeover of Manchester United. Supporters have protested about the family’s ownership since the start of this era, blaming them for plunging the club into debt and failing to invest in it.

£5 billion

Sum that Glazer’s six children are now reportedly seeking for Manchester United, with Britain’s richest man, Jim Ratcliffe, confirming that he has his eye on Old Trafford. The founder of chemicals group Ineos was born in Failsworth, Greater Manchester, and grew up supporting United.

£9.9 billion

Ratcliffe’s estimated net worth, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Already the owner of French side Nice and Switzerland’s FC Lausanne-Sport, Ratcliffe is a season-ticket holder at Chelsea, which he tried to buy last year.

Getting to know: Susan Jebb

Don’t offer Prof Susan Jebb a piece of cake. The chairwoman of the UK Food Standards Agency doesn’t want to have her cake and eat it – she doesn’t even want to see the cake.

“If nobody brought in cakes into the office, I would not eat cakes in the day but because people do bring cakes in, I eat them. Now, okay, I have made a choice, but people were making a choice to go into a smoky pub,” she told the Times.

The University of Oxford professor of diet and population health has identified the real enemy of office life here: people who try to ease the unremitting tedium of work by being generous with a jam sponge. Her serious point is that when it comes to food, people overestimate their ability to make informed choices and undervalue the impact of their environment.

Alas, just by reading Jebb’s observations about cake, the immediate response of many people will be to immediately crave cake – and possibly a smoky pub, too. As long as it serves cake.

The list: Davos celebrities

The World Economic Forum (WEF) annual shindig in the Swiss town of Davos usually pulls in a raft of would-be Bonos if not Bono himself. This year, however, most of the A-list is skiing elsewhere. So who did show up?

1. Idris Elba and Sabrina Dhowre Elba: The British actor and his wife, a United Nations goodwill ambassador, have done their bit to raise the glamour quotient.

2. Renée Fleming: Like the Elbas, the US soprano was one of the recipients of WEF’s Please Come Award – sorry, the Crystal Award – which honours exceptional artists deemed to have made a tangible impact on improving the state of the world. Fleming is an advocate for research into music and neuroscience.

3. Maya Lin: The US designer and sculptor, who was also honoured, raises awareness of climate change through artworks such as Silver River and Ghost Forest.

4. The Black Eyed Peas rapper, a “creative innovator, futurist, entertainer and technology investor”, is a Davos returnee. His Foundation works with schools in Los Angeles to set up after-school robotics clubs.

5. Prajakta Koli: The Indian influencer and actress is famous for her much-viewed YouTube comedy channel Mostly Sane, a name she is also known by. She is one of six YouTube stars WEF has invited to cover Davos, lest anyone think it isn’t relevant any more.